23 May: Demonstration? Defenestration!

Throwing people out of windows might seem a peculiar way to protest, but it’s happened so often in history, it’s got a special name: defenestration. And perhaps the most significant of all – because it brought about the Thirty Years War – was the assault on three Habsburg officials by Bohemian malcontents in Prague on 23rd May, 1618.

The dispute had kicked off when Ferdinand II refused permission for some Protestants to build a new place of worship on a piece of land – and then granted it to Catholics instead. Dick move.

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly consider whether ‘a bloodthirsty mob of Christians’ is a contradiction in terms; explain why 1618 was a bad year to take a secretarial job; and how, despite triggering the bloodiest war yet seen in Europe, Ferdinand II still managed to insert humour into proceedings… 

Further Reading:

• ‘Defenestration: The Bloody History Of Throwing People Out Of A Window’ (All That’s Interesting, 2022): https://allthatsinteresting.com/defenestration

• ‘What Happened At The 1618 Defenestration of Prague?’ (History Extra, 2020): https://www.historyextra.com/period/stuart/1618-defenestration-prague-facts-history-explained-what-happened-why-castle-protestant-catholic/

• ‘The 30 Years’ War (1618-48) and the Second Defenestration of Prague – Professor Peter Wilson’ (Gresham College, 2018):